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Ben Jonson (1572 – 1637)


English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor, most famous for his plays Volpone and The Alchemist, his lyrics, his influence on Jacobean and Caroline poets, his theory of humours, his contentious personality, and his friendship and rivalry with William Shakespeare.
Ben Jonson
The voice so sweet, the words so fair,
As some soft chime had stroked the air;
And, though the sound were parted thence,
Still left an echo in the sense.
Jonson quotes
That Donne himself, for not being understood, would perish.
Jonson
That old bald cheater, Time.




Jonson Ben quotes
Thou look'st like Antichrist in that lewd hat.
Jonson Ben
One, though he be excellent and the chief, is not to be imitated alone; for never no imitator ever grew up to his author; likeness is always on this side truth. Yet there happened in my time one noble speaker, who was full of gravity in his speaking; his language (where he could spare or pass by a jest) was nobly censorious. No man ever spake more neatly, more pressly, more weightily, or suffered less emptiness, less idleness, in what he uttered. No member of his speech but consisted of his own graces. His hearers could not cough, or look aside from him, without loss. He commanded where he spoke, and had his judges angry and pleased at his devotion. No man had their affections more in his power. The fear of every man that heard him was lest he should make an end.
Ben Jonson quotes
Sweet swan of Avon! what a sight it were
To see thee in our water yet appear,
And make those flights upon the banks of Thames,
That so did take Eliza, and our James.
But stay, I see thee in the hemisphere
Advanc'd, and made a constellation there!
Shine forth, thou star of poets, and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or cheer the drooping stage,
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourn'd like night,
And despairs day, but for thy volumes light.
Ben Jonson
It is as great a spite to be praised in the wrong place, and by a wrong person, as can be done to a noble nature.
Jonson Ben quotes
He saw in a vision his eldest son (then a child and at London) appear unto him with the mark of a bloody cross on his forehead, as if it had been cutted with a sword, at which amazed he prayed unto God, and in the morning he came to Mr. Camden's chamber to tell him, who persuaded him it was but an apprehension of his fantasy at which he should not be disjected; in the meantime comes there letters from his wife of the death of that boy in the plague. He appeared to him (he said) of a manly shape, and of that growth that he thinks he shall be at the resurrection.
Jonson
The dignity of truth is lost
With much protesting.
Jonson Ben
It is an art to have so much judgment as to apparel a lie well, to give it a good dressing.
Ben Jonson
The Devil is an Ass! fool'd off! and beaten!




Ben Jonson quotes
The ports of death are sins; of life, good deeds:
Through which our merit leads us to our meeds.
How willful blind is he then, that would stray,
And hath it in his powers, to make his way!
This world death's region is, the other life's:
And here, it should be one of our first strifes,
So to front death, as men might judge us past it.
For good men but see death, the wicked taste it.
Ben Jonson
He that fears death, or mourns it, in the just,
Shows of the resurrection little trust.
Jonson quotes
Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears:
Yet, slower, yet; O faintly, gentle springs:
List to the heavy part the music bears,
Woe weeps out her division, when she sings.
Droop herbs, and flowers,
Fall grief in showers,
Our beauties are not ours;
O, I could still,
Like melting snow upon some craggy hill,
Drop, drop, drop, drop,
Since nature's pride is now, a withered daffodil.
Jonson Ben
Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak, and to speak well, are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks.
Jonson Ben quotes
Still may syllabes jar with time,
Still may reason war with rhyme,
Resting never!
Ben Jonson
Pray thee, take care, that tak'st my book in hand,
To read it well: that is, to understand.
Ben Jonson quotes
Where it concerns himself,
Who's angry at a slander makes it true.
Ben Jonson
He cursed Petrarch for redacting verses to sonnets, which he said were like that tyrant's bed, where some who were too short were racked, others too long cut short.
Jonson Ben
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup
And I'll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.
I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honoring thee
As giving it a hope that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent'st it back to me;
Since when it grows and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.


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